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Recovery of copper from PCB manufacturing effluent using chitin and chitosan

Martin Goosey (MTG Research Ltd, Shrewsbury, UK)
Rod Kellner (Env‐Aqua Solutions Ltd, Rugby, UK)

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 3 February 2012




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential for using chitin and chitosan sustainable materials to absorb copper from PCB manufacturing effluent and to report the results of an initial feasibility study aimed at demonstrating proof of concept.


Crab shells and prawn shells, both waste products of the seafood industry, as well as chitosan, were evaluated as potential absorbents for recovering copper present at low levels in the manufacturing effluent produced in a UK‐based PCB manufacturing facility. Various conditions were investigated and efforts were also made to recover absorbed copper via a regeneration process that enabled the metal to be electroplated from solution.


Although only a short feasibility study, conditions were found that enabled copper to be absorbed by the ground crab shells and chitosan and then subsequently recovered by electrowinning to produce the metal.

Research limitations/implications

Although successful as a feasibility study, the experimental work highlighted the large number of variables that need to be investigated and optimised in order to obtain the most efficient copper capture and recovery. Further work needs to be carried out to determine these optimum conditions and to investigate the potential for recovery of other metals from a wider range of solutions.


The paper details how individual treatment technologies can be combined to enable a much more sustainable approach to PCB manufacturing which offers the benefits of reduced effluent metal levels, metal recovery and a novel use for another sector's waste products.



Goosey, M. and Kellner, R. (2012), "Recovery of copper from PCB manufacturing effluent using chitin and chitosan", Circuit World, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 16-20.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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